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Authentic Soutzoukakia Smyrneika

Authentic Soutzoukakia Smyrneika

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Soutzoukakia Smyrneika, are spicy sausage-shaped meatballs, which are lightly fried and then cooked in a delicious tomato sauce and come from the once Greek part of Asia Minor, Smyrna.

The post has been updated in March, 2022 with Air Fryer Soutzoukakia. Just scroll further down and you will find the instructions.

Before proceeding to the recipe, I want to thank each and every one of you again for the lovely comments regarding the cookbook.

Today I want to share with you a delectable recipe sent to me by one of  my Greek readers.  She wrote to me at the beginning of summer and sent me her grandmother’s authentic recipe of soutzoukakia, who lived in Smyrna.

Collage Soutzoukakia with mashed potatoes image

Smyrna was situated on the eastern shores of the Aegean Sea, opposite Chios in Asia Minor, with mainly Greek population. 

If you would like to learn more about the destruction of Smyrna and the Greek Genocide, please read my older post or watch the video by The National Geographic.

My reader says that from the notes she read in the recipe, there were some other variations of this recipe but it was a meal served on very special occasions like engagements or weddings.  Cinnamon was added as it was considered to be an aphrodisiac.

Soutzoukakia, original recipe by Aikaterini-Deligiannis Vouka, from Smyrna. 

You will see below that I have made a few minor changes to mine.

Tomato Sauce

3 kilos fresh ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp butter
1 heaped tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon, salt and pepper (allspice optional)

Peel the tomatoes, remove seeds and grate.  Cook them on low heat for about half an hour, then add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the sauce thickens.

For the meatballs

1 kilo ground beef
3 slices white bread without the crust, soaked in the wine
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper, allspice, cumin, cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all the ingredients.  Form into oblong small sausages and carefully lightly fry them in olive oil.  Cook them in the sauce for about 30 minutes on low heat.

Soutzoukakia with mashed potatoes image

Some minor changes I made

In the original recipe her grandmother used fresh ripe tomatoes. 

As I made this recipe recently when tomatoes are out of season, I preferred to use both tinned tomatoes and tomato juice, although we get tomatoes year round in Greece, but they are more expensive now and don’t taste that good. 

I do recommend fresh tomatoes when they are cheap and in season. 

I never cook with butter, so I substituted it  with olive oil to make the sauce. 

There was no onion in the original sauce, but I believe than adding an onion improves a tomato sauce and instead of using sugar, I added honey.  

In the recipe there were no specific amounts of spices, so I adjusted them to fit our taste, so it’s up to you to add more spices but I think the analogy was well balanced. 

I don’t add too much salt in my recipes so you might want to add more.

Collage preparing Soutzoukakia image

Baked Soutzoukakia

For those on a diet, instead of frying the meatballs, you can make them the same way but bake them in the oven .  

Line a baking tin with parchment paper, place the meatballs and bake them in a preheated oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 F for about half an hour. (Read below to see how the are made in the Air Fryer).

Soutzoukakia baked image

They do not need to brown but just to firm up and then continue cooking them in the sauce.  

I made them when my husband was on a gallbladder diet.  

However, spices are not recommended when on a gallbladder diet, so just reduce spices to half quantity for a milder flavour but still delicious.

Soutzoukakia Smyrneika picture

Update 16 March, 2022

Soutzoukakia in the Air Fryer

Soutzoukakia with rice image

As our family is now with only 3 persons, I had to make a smaller amount than the recipe in the recipe card.

The sauce: The sauce was made the same way as in the recipe card but using only 500 grams passata and about 1/2 cup water. The remaining ingredients were slightly adjusted.

The meatballs: I used 500 grams ground veal, which made 23 meatballs. The only change I made to the recipe was to add 1 extra tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar. The olive oil was added instead of brushing them and the red wine vinegar, was used to make the meatballs light and fluffy.

Air fryer soutzoukakia image

As my air fryer is very new, I had to improvise as to the time and temperature, as there is no option for meatballs.

My air fryer image

I used the installed program for drumsticks. This function is set for 20 minutes at 180oC / 350oF. I set the timer at 10 minutes in order to check how they were doing and at 10 minutes they were perfect.

Baking the second batch of soutzoukakia image

I baked them in two batches for 10 minutes each.

Air fryer cooked meatballs image

When done you see how much oil and fat there is in the air fryer. This is what makes them much healthier than the fried ones and they taste so much better!

Leftover oil and fat in the air fryer image

After both batches were baked, I put them in the sauce and cooked them for 10 more minutes.

Putting the meatballs in the sauce image

I served them over rice.

Soutzoukakia with rice picture
Soutzoukakia Smyrneika picture

Authentic Soutzoukakia Smyrneika

Yield: 50
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Soutzoukakia Smyrneika, are spicy sausage-shaped meatballs, which are lightly fried and then cooked in a delicious tomato sauce and come from the once Greek part of Asia Minor, Smyrna.

Soutzoukakia in the air fryer: You will find more details in the post.


For the Tomato Sauce

  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion
  • 500 grams (1.10 lbs) tomato puree
  • 1 tin whole tomatoes with the juice (400 gr. - 14.11 oz)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 large tbsp thyme honey
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 1 tsp salt

For the meatballs:

  • 800 grams ground veal or beef
  • 3 slices white bread without the crust
  • 1/3 cup red dry wine
  • 2 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice,
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1 very large clove garlic (about 1 tsp)
  • Olive oil, for frying (about 1 cup for a small deep frying pan)


  1. Puree the onion together with 2 tbsp olive oil in a food
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil and sauté the onion for a few minutes and then add all the spices and stir to get out their fragrances  Add the tomatoes and water, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is thick.
  3. Meantime, soak the bread together with the wine, lemon juice and 2 tbsp olive oil.
  4. Squeeze the bread and use the fluid to puree the garlic in a
    food processor. Then add the bread in the food processor and mix.
  5. Put the ground meat in a bowl with all the spices and bread.
    Mix well and let it rest for about ½ to 1 hour in the refrigerator for the flavours to mix.
  6. Shape the meatballs into oblong small sausages, around 8 cm (3 inches) long. Heat about an inch of olive oil in a skillet and fry them just until lightly golden brown on both sides. Remove them directly into the sauce.
  7. Bring the sauce to boil, lower heat and simmer for about
    another 20 minutes until sauce thickens.
  8. Soutzoukakia in the air fryer: I used the option for drumsticks. This function is for 20 minutes at 180oC / 350oF. I set the timer at 10 minutes in order to check how they were doing and at 10 minutes they were perfect. Check the post for more details.


I served the soutzoukakia with olive oil mashed potatoes but if you like you can serve them with fried potatoes, rice or pasta.

Nutrition Information
Yield 50 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 69Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 14mgSodium 107mgCarbohydrates 3gFiber 0gSugar 1gProtein 5g

Gallbladder Diet: The calories are much less if the meatballs are baked in the oven. For gallbladder diet, you should add much less spices.

Did you make this recipe?

Tried this recipe? Tag me @ivyliac and use the hashtag #kopiaste!

Air Fryer Recipes

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Collage Soutzoukakia Smyrneika image

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!!

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Tuesday 10th of January 2012

I love the fact that there is allspice in this; its a neglected and deliciously complex spice that raises this recipe above the ordinary. Years ago (nearly 29 in fact) I lived in Ierapetra in Crete, and one particular chef (in the taverna "O Pharos") added a cloves (whole or ground, I can't remember) to his sauce, as well as cinnamon - probably instead of allspcie. This too gave the sauce a subtly exotic edge that he was rightly proud of.


Tuesday 30th of November 2010

Soutzoukakia are one of my favorite meals. My husband really loves them too. We always serve ours with mashed potatoes as well. Yours look delicious!


Thursday 25th of November 2010

You can make this for me any time Ivy - just looking at that gorgeous red tomato sauce makes me hungry.


Wednesday 24th of November 2010

My grandmother is from Smyrna so I know these beauties all too well. I love soutzoukakia!! Good job Ivy! Magda My recent post Meat and pasta- the western Greek way


Tuesday 23rd of November 2010

YUM! I LOVE soutzoukakia and I've not found a recipe I like yet. I'll definitely give this a shot. I'm also super-excited about your cookbook. I look forward to when it will be available to purchase!

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